Power, performance, and style.
In this price range sits a couple of 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 configurations, with either an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor (CPU). For about $1,500, grab the former CPU as well as a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), 8GB of RAM, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. For about $2,000, you can instead get the Core i7 CPU with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, and a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card (GPU). Either model features the stunning touch display with 3,000 x 2,000 resolution, and you're getting a high-quality build with modular design to keep it all contained.
Bottom line: Two 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 configurations sit at either end of the price range, and either one can prove itself as a desktop replacement.
The Surface Book 2's modular design allows you to remove the 13.5-inch touch display and use it as a tablet alongside the Surface Pen, plus it can be set back onto the keyboard backwards to sit flat as one unit. It has a crisp 3,000 x 2,000 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which isn't something you find on a lot of laptops.
If you don't need dedicated graphics or a Core i7 CPU, you can save about $500 and grab a model with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe SSD. If you don't mind hitting the upper limit of the price range, however, you can upgrade to an 8th Gen Core i7 CPU and a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU. This is enough power to run Windows Mixed Reality (WMR).
Expect about 11 hours of battery life from a single charge, more than enough to get you through a workday. As for an extra touch of security, an IR camera for Windows Hello sits above the display.
Dell is always great about offering up a number of customizable configurations, letting you adjust XPS 13 9570 hardware to fit your budget. You can get a lot of PC in this price range, including an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and a 13.3-inch 1080p display for about $1,650. Upgrading to a 4K display costs an additional $400, so you can dial back the RAM and still come in under the $2,000 mark. All this is contained inside a redesigned chassis with improved thermals, less bezel, and longer battery life.
The Razer Blade comes in well under an inch thick, but has a full NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM — this laptop is a beast. Along with the GPU, you get a 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core CPU and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. You'll have no problems playing all current games — the 1TB PCIe SSD will hold plenty — and they'll look great on the 14-inch, 1080p display. Grab this configuration of the Razer Blade for about $2,000.
The Surface Laptop is available in four different colors, and you have a decent set of configurations to choose from. For about $1,600, get inside a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe SSD. No matter the configuration, you're still looking at a 13.5-inch touch display with a unique 2,256 x 1,504 resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio, ideal for use with the Surface Pen. Battery life gets through a school day on a single charge, and an IR camera allows for quick logins with Windows Hello.
With a removable keyboard, adjustable kickstand on the back, and optional LTE connectivity, the Surface Pro is sort of a jack-of-all-trades. The 12.3-inch touch display, combined with the Surface Pen, makes for a satisfying inking experience, but it also has the hardware inside to cut through a day's work. For about $1,600, get a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. This leaves budget room for accessories, like the Signature Type Cover.
There are plenty of configurations to choose from, but you can nearly max out the specs on this beautiful laptop and still come in well under budget. For about $1,780, get inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe SSD, which combined is plenty of power to rip through just about whatever you toss at it, save for heavy gaming or multimedia editing. The 13.3-inch touch display has a 4K resolution, and thanks to the convertible build, it's ideal for use with HP's Active Pen, which is included in the price.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs in at 2.49 pounds (1.13 kg), but it will stand up to abuse on the road thanks to a sturdy carbon-fiber chassis. There are a lot of customization options available, but for about $1,920 you can get inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U vPro CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. The battery lasts through a full day, and the 14-inch, 1080p touch display has great color and contrast. Check out the X1 Yoga if you're interested in a convertible model with pen support.
LG's gram lineup takes mobility to heart, offering up a 15.6-inch laptop that weighs 2.41 pounds and is just 0.7 inches thick. Despite the size, a 72Wh battery lasts about 12 hours and the 1080p display is touch enabled. A configuration that costs about $1,900 offers an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. A fingerprint reader built into the power button offers some extra security, and a good selection of ports should let you easily connect your peripherals.
HP's non-convertible Spectre 13t is one slick notebook, offering up thin, executive style that's nevertheless durable. Despite its impressive build, you can max out the hardware inside and still only pay about $1,960. Get an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and a 13.3-inch 4K touch display. An IR camera for Windows Hello sits above the display, and the keyboard and touchpad are some of the best around.
Most of our favorite overall laptops have plenty of configuration options, including those that sit somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000. For the best, though, Microsoft's Surface Book 2 still sits at the top of the stack.
Powerful, beautiful, and high-end all the way.
Updated May 16, 2018: We refreshed this list with a bunch of new laptops, including the Surface Book 2 and LG gram 15Z980, to ensure you're still getting the absolute best laptops between $1,500 and $2,000.